"You can't have everything with 'death to Carter, death to the shah,'" said the young man listening to a crowd bound for the U.S. Embassy to demonstrate.
"That's not going to get me a job," he said glumly to his fellow passengers in a collective taxi stuck in a typical Tehran traffic jam.
Out of work for months like millions of other Iranians, he was not critical of the revolution that had caused his unemloyment or of the continuing occupation of the U.S. Embassy that is diverting public attention from this and other serious economic problems.
Rather, after so many months of turmoil and dislocation, he seemed overcome by the general weariness here that even the current anti-American campaign has failed to more than mask.
Such expressions of discontent should not be interpreted as a longing for the days of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlvai.
"The revolution was a necessity and had to happen," a surgeon said. "The regime was so corrupt -- it was impossible to put up with it any longer."
Yet he was clearly appaled by the Moslem religious authorities' lack of political, economic or management savvy and frightened by what he was as dangerous leftist inroads.
The shah's departure was not enough to exorcise Iran's devils, he seemed to be saying, but perhaps the anti-Americanism would now suffice.
Once the U.s. Central Intelligence Agency helped put the shah back on his throne in 1953, "It took us 25 years to believe inside our heads that we could get rid of him," the surgeon added. "We had become so convinced that the United States could keep him in power and protect him that we never questioned things."
This history helps to explain the accumulated nationalist resentment against the United States in a country with a long tradition of imposed foreign domination. Playing on this resentment, the revolutionaries have touched a live nerve in denouncing the United States and its works here.
Still, some Iranians are amibvalent.
"There's not a small village in this country which doesn't have someone living or studying in the United States," a middle-aged man said. "People are worried in the back of their minds. They think twice before calling their relatives back from America. There are few places in universities here, and anyhow they're not much good."
But in a teahouse in poor south Tehran -- the part of the city much invoked as a symbol of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's "revolution of the deprived" -- the conversation is of shortages: eggs, meat and now American cigarettes proscribed in a fit of nationalism.
Rice costing 70 cents a kilo (2.2 pounds) before the revolution now fetches more than twice as much. Rice is a staple in Iranian diets.
A certain fatalism allows that all revolutions have problems. The current crisis-- the Iranian demands for the shah's extradition and Washington's insistence about releasing the embassy hostages -- evoke no great enthusiasm or venom.
For the record, a young man sitting on a well-worn bench along a white-tiled teahouse wall says all Iran wants the shah back to stand trial. There is general, but unargumentative, agreement.
"You'd have to ask the Revolutionary Council about that," another man added. It was as if he was suggesting it was a matter for the politicians, be they mullahs or their equally devout Islamic lay colleagues.
Some middle-class Iranians clearly are betting on a generalized breakdown of Iranian society to cause the overthrow of the theocratic leadership. They delight in the mullahs' lack of management skill. The absence of spare parts, the generalized mess.
"This bunch couldn't run a provincial pawn shop, much less a semi-advanced economy," a lawyer said almost gloatingly.
Without visible emotion a professor insists that "things are going to get a great deal worse."
A European lawyer, here on his eighth trip since the revolution in February to iron out contract differences for important European clients, curses the bureaucracy's "passive resistance."
"They're hoping to bring down the revolution," he said, "by shuffling the papers and never getting anything done.
"Things have improved a bit since the new bunch took over last month and started talking about purging the administration," he added, "but that wouldn't work well either since they'd just put in greenhorns. Better to keep the old lot and put the fear of Allah in them."
An Iranian architect suggests that "the country is looking for a Bonaparte, but not yet. He foresees the day when Iranians will settle for law and order instead of the liberty bordering on license that characterizes much of revolutionary reality despite the stern Islamic pronouncements.
Only peipherally do the middle class critics realize they share this "worse-is-better" view of the revolution with the very leftists they profess to fear.
Few middle-class Iranians appear to realize their own weakness as a class without much backbone or organization faced by a left which is armed, disciplined and determined even if split into various rival parties.
The same doctor who pins his hopes on military coming to the rescue, concedes that several officer friends in the decimated Army have refused to fight in Kurdistan.
"It was all so much easier last year," a political scientist remarked." Then the intellectuals who had been for the shah for years finally asked themselves questions and dumped him. Now people don't know what to think."
With perhaps as many as 500,000 Iranians -- most of them members of the upper, upper middle and management classes -- many of the remaining elite are out of work, or settling for as little as 20 to 30 percent of their former pay.
University professors wait for fresh purges. Professions wither. Lawyers no longer are in demand under an Islamic judicial system. Many professional journalists are jobless -- despite a proliferation of publications -- because the ultrareligious have taken their places.
The flowering of Iranian writing after the revolution has dried up, or been kept in desk drawers, because of the difficulty now in publishing anything but the fundamentalist Islamic line.
Newspaper sales, which soared during the long crisis before and after the revolution, are down drastically.
"There's little news in the papers which isn't on radio or television because of self-censorship," a newspaperman said, "and there's a reader resistance."
Yet, if there is one distinguishing characteristic about Tehran these days, it's a kind of stubborn nationtic determination to see things through.
"This is not a simple country to run," an editor said. "We've no discipline, no dedication to work, our people want more and now."
And there is less and less to give. It's not just because of the dislocating repercussions of the revolution.Rather it also reflects the leadership's genuine belief that salaries should be nearly equal, that money is the root of all evil and that less is more.
Reflecting on the fundamentalist stamp of the revolution-- and Iran's alis-- determination to see things Westernized Iranian said: "The worst thing the shah did was deprive a generation of political experience."
One thing that has survived the revolution, however, are the jokes, like the following which act as a safety valve for society's ills:
A man is discovered walking backwards down a street in Rasht, the northern Iranian city that has become the butt of jokes about the simplemined. Neighbors rush to the man's aid, warning him he could be run over and asking him what he is doing.
"I was just taking back all those steps in all those demonstrations I marched in last year to get rid of the shsh," is the reply. Even the mullahs laugh at that one, it is said.